By Brooks Jewell

It’s something every good building manager knows, but getting the message across isn’t easy. Seemingly small acts like turning out office lights at the end of the day, shutting off personal printers or using a refillable water bottle may only be a drop in the bucket – but it’s surprising how fast those drops add up. Since April, for example, Time Warner employees have saved more than 28,000 gallons of water, 251,000 kilowatts of energy and 450 reams of paper.   

“People see these multiple-story buildings that they work in every day, and they don’t feel that their individual contribution can make much of a difference,” explained John Hester, Director of Design Engineering at Turner Broadcasting, who heads up the Time Warner Global Energy Council. “But we’re hoping to change that.” 

Tasked with finding innovative ways to reduce the company’s energy use enterprise-wide and show employees how pooling their collective resources can make a meaningful impact, the energy council implemented Practically Green, an employee engagement platform, as part of a world-wide Earth Day campaign -- and the numbers have really been adding up.  The Practically Green platform, which is operated by WeSpire, is geared toward changing behavior, both at the office and at home, by encouraging employees to complete simple activities to save energy or recycle, while earning badges and interacting with co-workers who have similar interests.

Engaging employees through the platform, as well as through global awareness campaigns and recycling events, complements Time Warner’s larger green business efforts - such as LEED certified construction, installing energy-efficient LED lighting,  using integrated variable speed technology pumps for heating and cooling systems; and investing in renewable energy sources for production units and sounds stages.

Getting employees to care now is not only important to the energy council’s current goal of reducing energy by $1M in 2014, but Time Warner has plans to move its New York employees into an 80-story LEED Gold certified building in early 2019. The new office space is expected to be one of the most energy efficient buildings in Manhattan, but Hester pointed out that employee participation will still be key.

He cited a recent article from Greentec Media that showed a well-managed 40-year old building that out-performed a brand-new LEED certified building in part, because employees were turning off computers, printers, lights and other office equipment at the end of the day and using load-reducing technology – such as energy efficient power strips.

“Even with all the modern-day bells and whistles, without employees pitching in and doing their part there’s only so much we can do from an engineering standpoint. Our employees are very important to achieving our goals and reducing our carbon footprint,” Hester said.